An Interview With The LA-Based Songstress, OSTON On New Music and More!
OSTON is a Chicago via SLC and now LA-based songstress. She recently released her debut EP Sitting at the Kids Table. Great pop songwriter and musicians and has collaborated with Lady Gaga and Billie Eilish writers and producers. The EP is a really mature coming of age collection of songs about loving, losing, being challenged creatively, building a career in a tough business. “Stay For Me” is the newest track released from this collection. Oston is joined by Michael Minelli on this song.
Check out the EP Here-
Learn more about Oston in the following All Access interview-
What does a typical day look like for you? What do you have scheduled the rest of today and this week?
I think I can say with pretty strong confidence that any semblance of normalcy or routine has been eliminated from my life, HA! Since moving to LA in August my schedule has been filled with meetings, writing sessions, and shows. Right now we’re ramping up for a big year in 2020, so my schedule has been focused on writing and recording. A typical day starts off with rehearsal or a meeting with my management team to go over goals and deadlines. Then I’ll head to a writing session; I’ve been fortunate enough to write with some incredibly talented producers and songwriters each day that I’ve been in LA. We’ll usually end the day by recording vocals or finishing up whatever project needs to get done for the week. It’s been a pretty hectic go-go-go schedule, but we are working extremely hard, and it’s all worth it seeing our vision come to fruition.
Now that we are in the latter half of the year, how has 2019 treated you? What are some goals that you have had for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them or did you already? What are you already excited about for this fall and even looking towards 2020?
2019 was a year of milestones for me. We kicked off the year by releasing my second single, “give up,” in January after debuting my first single the previous October. ‘give up’ went number one on Radio Disney for the week and I got to host the show, perform at the office, and give a sneak peek into my debut EP. After such a great start to the year, I started planning for life in LA post-graduation, as the spring was my last semester in college in Chicago. We released “way we say goodbye” and “leading me on” ahead of my debut EP Sitting at the Kids Table that we released in August, and I got to play shows across the country with artists like Escort, Golden Vessel, Maggie Koerner, and Tink.
We’re ramping up for 2020 with some new music. To keep everyone tuned in, we’ve planned some additional content for this year including a remix of “way we say goodbye” with my good friend and collaborator Brendan Bennett, a collaboration with R&B/pop singer Michael Minelli, a music video for “nobody cares” from Sitting at the Kids Table, AND an acoustic version of my EP.
I can’t say much about next year’s plan at this time, but get ready for some new music that’s a little different from what you might expect.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be in this industry? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
I’ve always known I wanted to pursue music. I started taking vocal lessons at age five and it really just progressed from there.
Pursuing music wasn’t really a ‘choice’ I had to make – it was always just something I knew I was going to do. The “official decision” was made when I needed to decide what college to go to. My choices were between Berklee College of Music in Boston or Columbia College in Chicago. As you have probably noticed, I picked Chicago. When I first moved there, I started working with a team that I adored, but along the way always felt like the little kid of the family. Everyone was more seasoned, more creative, and further along in their careers than me – but they were the most inspiring and supportive group of friends and collaborators. Around this time was when I started pursuing music as a full time career instead of just a hobby.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
Yes, actually. There was a time during college, and there are times today still, that I start to doubt myself and lose my grip a little. It’s hard not to, and I think anyone in any industry experiences moments of self-doubt in their desired field.
Any time I start to doubt whether I’m meant for this, I picture any other 23 year old who just graduated, starting at the bottom in their field and how they must feel completely overwhelmed and lost as well. This is a confusing stage of life for everybody.
I have a degree in marketing, and while I could see myself working for a music-centric marketing company, I know in my heart that working on campaigns for other artists music while not getting to release and perform my own catalogue would be heartbreaking. So, anytime I’m feeling sad or overwhelmed, writing, playing, or listening to music always helps to pull me out of that hole. At this point I’ve realized I would simply not be fulfilled doing anything else.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? What has been the best part about it all?
The most rewarding feeling comes when I run up on stage and see a bunch of faces smiling up at me. Sometimes I know the smiling faces, sometimes I don’t. But when the intro to my song ‘way we say goodbye’ starts to play and people cheer and sing every word along with me, I choke up a little and my whole body goes kinda numb. It’s so surreal hearing people sing your own lyrics back to you. And then there’s the added bonus when people reach out and tell you the personal connections they’ve formed with your music…it’s all incredibly rewarding. There’s really no feeling like it.
Let’s talk about your debut EP, “Sitting at the Kids Table.” What was the inspiration for this collection? What was it like putting it together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process?
‘Sitting at the Kids Table’ was me experimenting with writing, production, and imagery for the first time. Putting together the project was a lot of figuring out who I wanted to be in a time of uncertainty in my life.
It’s a culmination of the many experiences I’ve gone through as a young adult. The biggest surprise was being able to work with an amazingly iconic producer, Dino Zisis, who co-wrote and produced songs like ‘Applause’ for Lady Gaga. In regards to the process, I don’t think many people, including me at the time, comprehend how much goes into making a project. Going to school, working, and then being in the studio cutting vocals and working on production until late hours of the morning just to turn around and do it again the next day was something I was NOT prepared for!!
Can you pick out a few of your favorite songs on this EP and talk about their inspiration and how they came to be on “Sitting at the Kids Table”?
Each of the songs on SATKT holds a very special place in my heart. Each song was written from a place of vulnerability and uncertainty with who I was and who I wanted to be as I grew into a young adult.
‘way we say goodbye’ is probably my personal favorite on the project – the lyrics are so descriptive and they take me right back to a headspace I was in dealing with an old relationship. The song ‘last time’ is another one of my favorites. It’s funny, that song gave our team so many headaches, it has the most co-writers, and was the longest process that I started to hate it. However, it’s become people’s favorite song and that makes me love it again.
Where can people see you perform next? Do you have any fall tour dates scheduled yet?
I recently finished a run of fall tour dates, including a Midwest college tour, opening for Tink at Millennium Park in Chicago, and co-headlining the Echoplex in Los Angeles. My next show will be at the ‘We Found New Music’ showcase at Madame Siam’s on November 12 that’s being co-hosted with my distributor, AWAL. We’re starting to dwindle down show dates for the year so we can work on production for some exciting new things in 2020.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music?
I started writing songs on piano as a young kid that all came out as sappy love ballads in 3/4 or 6/8 time signatures, which progressed into a desire to pursue adult contemporary as a genre. When I moved to Chicago, I studied pop-structured writing and it completely rewired my brain. I am now absolutely obsessed with pop music…
Not only that, but I learned how important it is to get rid of my ego. I’d say this to any human, really, because I think being humble is an incredibly important characteristic. But in music especially, there are so many talented humans in this world, and that’s a good thing, not a road-block. When you’re young and insecure, it’s easy to take on a competitive mentality, thinking that the progression of someone else’s career might hinder your progression – but that’s just NOT THE TRUTH. The world becomes a better place when artists (and individuals) support each other and lift each other up. Be nice to people! Collaborate! Make beautiful music together! No one benefits from having a mean ego.
How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career so far?
Social media is a very straining, yet crucial part of marketing yourself as an emerging artist. It’s funny you ask, because I literally wrote a song called ‘nobody cares’ about social media and the disdain I have for it. We try so hard to impress other people and worry about the number of likes or retweets we get …, but at the end of the day, nobody really cares. People only care after enough people say it’s something worth caring about, and I don’t want to participate in a culture that you have to be deemed worthy enough to exist online.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
It wasn’t until college that I dove into pop masterpieces like Ariana Grande’s ‘Dangerous Woman’ and Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’ albums that helped me see the true beauty in pop writing and production. It was artists like them, Billie Eilish, and Julia Michaels that influenced the vision I had for my EP ‘Sitting at the Kids Table’.
I think Julia and I in particular could make something very special.
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
Woah, this is too heavy. I don’t think I can even fathom this. We talked about doing something similar to an OK GO style video for ‘nobody cares.’ It would take me pages to dissect each second and I won’t put you through that!
Either way, I want all of my videos to be something entertaining to watch that the music is attached to.
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
You know, people always reach out to tell me they heard my song playing in a store like H&M or Zara. I love that they were able to catch that, but I’m still waiting for the day I’m shopping around a store and hear it for myself!
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I just want people to identify with the topics I’m discussing. My first project is really about love and lust, which is something we all understand. The next project is more about how I view myself in situations or the world around me. I hope people can identify with the topics I’m addressing and feel the same way I do, and I can be a reminder that they aren’t alone.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
Just that, if you listen to my songs even one time; know that I appreciate you with my whole heart!